Amanda Gorman was born on March 7, 1998, in Los Angeles, California, to Joan Wicks. She and twin sister Gabrielle were born prematurely.
Gorman grew up with a speech impediment and was diagnosed with an auditory-processing disorder in kindergarten. This meant she had trouble pronouncing the letter "r" until she was around 20. Gorman explained in an interview with Oprah Winfrey, "I was born early, along with my twin, and a lot of times, for infants, that can lead to learning delays."
Gorman participated in speech therapy. She also found the Hamilton soundtrack to be a useful tool in pronouncing "r" sounds. "I would listen to the track of 'Aaron Burr, Sir,' and try to do it over and over and over again," she said.
Her situation presented difficulties, but also had benefits. Gorman shared with Winfrey, "I think it made me all that much stronger of a writer when you have to teach yourself how to say words from scratch. When you are learning through poetry how to speak English, it lends to a great understanding of sound, of pitch, of pronunciation, so I think of my speech impediment not as a weakness or a disability, but as one of my greatest strengths."
Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, as well as an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology.
Now her words have won her invitations to the Obama White House and to perform for Lin-Manuel Miranda, Al Gore, Secretary Hillary Clinton, Malala Yousafzai, and others. Amanda has performed multiple commissioned poems for CBS This Morning and she has spoken at events and venues across the country, including the Library of Congress and Lincoln Center. She has received a Genius Grant from OZY Media, as well as recognition from Scholastic Inc., YoungArts, the Glamour magazine College Women of the Year Awards, and the Webby Awards.
In 2017, Amanda Gorman was appointed the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate by Urban Word - a program that supports Youth Poets Laureate in more than 60 cities, regions, and states nationally. She is the recipient of the Poets & Writers Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award and is the youngest board member of 826 National, the largest youth writing network in the United States. Amanda has written for the New York Times newsletter The Edit and penned the manifesto for Nike's 2020 Black History Month campaign.
Gorman came into the public spotlight in 2021 when she read her poem, 'The Hill We Climb' at President Joe Biden's inauguration. She wrote the poem for the occasion and is the youngest poet to ever read at a presidential inauguration in history. Reportedly, Joe Biden recommended her for the occasion.
In part, the poem was inspired by events of less than two weeks prior, the storming of the United States Capital by supporters of then-President Trump. After completing her reading, and receiving rave reviews from the public, her two books, The Hill We Climb and Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, made it to the top of Amazon's bestseller list.
Poems - 15 in all
THE HILL WE CLIMB
PRACTICE MAKES PEOPLE
THE UNORDINARY WORLD
THERE'S NO POWER LIKE HOME